An Imaginary Life by William Wordsworth and David Malouf

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An Imaginary Life by William Wordsworth and David Malouf

In both William Wordsworth’s poems and David Malouf’s novel, An Imaginary Life, it is evident how different times and cultures affect the quality and importance of the relationship humanity can have with the natural world. Themes that are explored in both texts include interaction with nature, the role of nature in childhood and adulthood, religion and the role of language. These all show the quality and importance of humanity’s relationship with nature and how times and culture influence the relationship. Although they are influenced by very different cultural and social values, both writers have the same goal, which is to understand nature and become a part of it. Wordsworth learns through his interaction with nature in “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey, on Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour, July 13, 1798,” and “It’s a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free,” that there is a spiritual presence in the landscape. Ovid’s interaction with nature helps him break down the divisions between people and their environment to become at one with it. Both writers demonstrate how interaction with nature is necessary to appreciate it.

The importance of humanity’s relationship with the natural world is shown through the main characters interaction with the environment. The different contexts of the authors make Wordsworth’s relationship with nature not nearly as physical as Ovid’s. He is a gentleman from the early nineteenth century, and he would not “bush bash” to get places. To him nature is just a source of pleasure and a way to get closer to God. This is a reflection of his context and culture as this is what he is accustomed too. His world is much more civilised, “Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke.” This demonstrates the domestic elements of his world. There is a contrast in environments in Tintern Abbey and the landscape around Tomis in An Imaginary Life. Wordsworth’s environment appears to be fertile and suited to agriculture because it is domesticated but Ovid’s hasn’t even been explored. Wordsworth never loses himself in nature because the line between God and earth always remains. A contrast to Wordsworth’s idea of interaction with nature is the child in An Imaginary Life. The child is at one with nature because he is part of it. At the beginning of the book Ovid’s ...

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...guage and the earth end up reflecting one another. “The true language, I know now, is that speech in which we first communicated, the child and I . . . Latin is a language for distinctions, every ending defines and divides. The language I am speaking of now . . . is a language whose every syllable is a gesture of reconciliation.

William Wordsworth’s poems and David Malouf’s, through the character of Ovid, explore the relationship between people and nature. By interacting with nature the characters in both texts learn from the land, to create a relationship with the natural world. This interaction is very important for the characters to have a comprehensive understanding of the wild. Their worlds differ as a result of their historical contexts which they are written. The culture of the writers is reflected in their writing. Wordsworth feels a spiritual presence and gains happiness from it. Ovid spends his time searching for answers to find out how he can become a part of the natural world. Wordsworth and Malouf’s main characters recognise the importance of becoming a part of the natural world so they can understand themselves and their relationship with the rest of the world.
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